Outstanding Book Marketing Depends on Authors

Marketing a Book Takes Author-Provided Information

When it comes to how to market a book successfully, the information provided by authors is crucial. Our pros at Smith Publicity are proactive and strategic book marketers with a successful track record. But what we do needs to flow authentically from an author to make it more effective.

As we begin a new client relationship, we ask authors to complete a questionnaire. The answers provide us with vital information before the start of a book marketing campaign. Our questions often help authors clarify their goals and prompt them to think about aspects of book marketing they might otherwise not consider. 

Questions We Ask Authors Before Starting a Book Marketing Campaign

To be of service to all authors and help with their book marketing, some sample questions were adapted from the Smith Publicity author questionnaire.

  1. What goals are most important to YOU as they relate to the publication and marketing of your book? Rate each one 1=not a priority to 10=high priority
    • Make money by selling books
    • Become known as an author
    • Build credibility/become known as an expert in an area
    • Provide service/education to the public
    • Raise awareness to a worthy cause/topic
    • Become a full-time author
    • Attract new clients to a business
    • Create speaking and presentation opportunities:
  2. Do you have other personal or professional goals for your book marketing campaign?
  3. Describe the target audience(s) of the book (in order of importance)
  4. Are there vertical markets you would like targeted? (specific industry/type of reader)
  5. Are there specific geographic markets you want to focus on, and why?
  6. Is local media a priority for your goals?
  7. Do you want to be known as an expert speaker?
    • If yes, list organizations/associations or types of audiences you are interested in reaching.
  8. What media outlets—newspapers, magazines, radio, television, online, blog, podcast—do you believe would be interested in reviewing your book or featuring you or your book?
  9. What media outlet(s) do you consider to be your ideal, best scenario coverage to secure in your book marketing campaign?
  10. Are there trade associations, groups, or organizations you are interested in targeting through publications that focus on their interests?
  11. Are there awareness months/seasonality (graduation or Mother’s Father’s Day), anniversaries of events, etc., that tie into your book?
  12. Is your book a candidate to be a gift? If so, who would be buying it, and for what target audience?
  13. Are you willing to travel for interviews? If so, how far?
  14. Write a 50-word synopsis of your book.
  15. In one or two sentences, what makes your book different from others in the same genre?
  16. Are there specific problems/challenges facing your target market that your book can solve?
  17. Is there a particular endorsement on your book that carries the most weight with your target audience?
  18. Write a brief autobiography, noting your professional credentials and any lifestyle credentials that make you particularly well qualified to write your book, including professional accomplishments, past employment, books published, etc. (You don’t want to be shy in book publicity —sell yourself)
  19. Do you have a tagline or brief description of you as an expert? (For example, the “Small Biz Lady”)
  20. Is there any personal background information such as hobbies, race, religious affiliation, lifestyle, medical conditions, marital status, family, etc., you can use in your pitching efforts?
  21. What three to five things do you want the media to know about you? Examples may include specific messages, themes in your book, your background/education, or accomplishments?
  22. What are your five key messages or talking points? If you were allowed only to make five statements about your book’s theme or message, what do you want readers/listeners to remember about you and your book?

Talking Points

Frequently asked questions about book publicity. A child screaming into a microphone to convey the different ways to publicize your book. In the next step, you should build upon these key points by writing several sentences of conversation about each talking point listed above that will help audiences understand your talking point better. (In interviews that help market books, the talking points can become how the host moves the interview along. Your conversation about these talking points helps the host understand where you are going with your answer and when to move to the next talking point. It also helps you learn to convey a message in 3 or 4 sentences.)

  • What are 6-8 questions you would like to be asked in an interview that would allow you to answer in a way that most will enable you to share your message? Items should be benefit-based to your audiences and address their needs.
  • Are there any relevant facts, figures, and research you can use in publicity and marketing materials?
  • What themes in your book do you believe are relevant to current news topics, society, the world, or life in general? (List at least three)
  • What topics related to your book do you feel qualified to discuss with the media?
  • What topics not related to your book do you feel qualified to discuss with the media?
  • What is the most controversial aspect of your message or book?
  • What one question do you most often get asked when people meet you/learn about what you do?